Please Help Save Bridport’s Vintage Quarter!
February, 2012
Please Help Save Bridport’s Vintage Quarter!

Today’s blog is a cry for help….

There is a plan to redevelop the part of Bridport that is so central to its charm, character and soul and today is the last chance for locals {and visitors who are also fond of the town and it’s vintage quarter} to submit complaints to the council. The plan is to bulldoze the vintage arts quarter and build more housing.

The vintage quarter is home to a number of businesses, artists and antique sellers – the vibe down there is magical and remnant of a french brocante, especially during the outdoor vintage markets that are held once a month from March through to October.

If you are able and have the time to submit something then please do and help us save this incredibly unique and special part of our community. It was one of the real pulls when we were selecting where in Dorset {or even the UK} to settle when we moved back from Mallorca last summer.

Here is an extract from an incredibly eloquent submission, written by a local writer Maddie, who has been a resident in this charming town for longer than we have.

“I’ve known Bridport for thirty years and St Michael’s trading estate has always been a thriving place for creative enterprise. The look of it hasn’t changed much in that time either.

Back then there were auction rooms, car repairers, award winning drag racing cars made as a hobby by Number One Son’s father and a salon set up by my hairdresser. It was shabby but it was useful. And some lovely, lovely buildings that are part of the town’s industrial heritage.

And still the estate is shabby. But it’s chic. It has a thriving art quarter. The area attracts a huge deal of interest and visitors. It’s become a sort of fingerless glove attached to one of Bridport’s hands.

Developing the so-called ‘south west quadrant’ has been talked about for years and the plans have been a long time coming. And now they’re here.

Bridport is quirky, arty, bohemian and the art quarter fits, alongside small businesses that have been on the estate for years.

What doesn’t fit is a massive housing development, the tidying up and gentrification of Bridport which will lead to an influx of people who will gaze at the Looking Back page of the local newspaper in years to come and say ‘oh, so that’s what it used to be like’.

As a former editor of that paper, I have seen how Bridport has changed over the years. Not necessarily all for the better, but what is evident now is there is a new vibrancy, a new creative energy, that has emerged in recent years. You can see it in the independent shops, you can see it in the arts centre, the Electric Palace and the newly-revamped town hall. It’s the Spirit of Bridport shining through and so typified by the St Michael’s artistic quarter. It’s Bridport’s Monmartre!

Fra Newbery was one of the town’s best known artists who painted the beautiful Spirit of Bridport. He strove ‘to make art more readily available to a wider public, attempting to relate it to their daily lives and to celebrate the traditions of the specific localities in which the works were sited’. (And, ironically, on the day I write this, the Fra Newbery website is just about to be taken down for a lack of funding).

Heritage is worth saving. It really is.” 

Please submit your comment now as today is the deadline….click here and fill out the form, which will only take a minute or two of your time and for more information about the campaign go to the group’s Facebook page.